Tacoma to crack down on street racing with proposed law

Tacoma leaders and the community are fed up with issues surrounding street racing in the city. That's why the city is proposing a new law to crack down on the dangerous activity.

In January, a crowd of dozens, if not hundreds, surrounded Pacific Avenue and South 9th Street. Police responded to what they said were street racing-related calls.

This incident got worldwide attention when the officer drove through a crowd of people. Police said the officer said he feared for his life.

RELATED: Tacoma leaders search for answers after street racing leads to police incident

However, this incident is one of several street racing calls the city has dealt with.

City officials say they responded to about 60 street racing calls in January 2021. In January 2020, there were 20 calls.

"It’s never been legal to race through the city or do donuts in the city. We just never had to enforce it because it wasn’t happening that much," said Tacoma City Councilmember Robert Thoms.

Thoms said it's a growing problem, one the city hopes to get ahead of before someone is killed.

"It’s not safe for the drivers. It’s not safe for the spectators, and it’s not safe for the pedestrians," he said.

RELATED: 'It's not worth it': Local family warns of street racing

The city is defining the focus of their law as cracking down on an "unlawful exhibition of speed, meaning nyone who is doing actions such as burnouts, drifting, accelerating rapidly, swerving, weaving, or leaving visible tire marks could be charged with a misdemeanor. 

The penalty can reach up to a $1000 fine, up to three months in jail, or possibly both.

"If you’re going to be aggressive driving this is not the place for you," said Thoms.

For some folks living in Tacoma, this is a necessary action.

"These are community streets, they don’t belong to individuals, they belong to everybody," said Quantum Richardson.

RELATED: Ongoing challenge with illegal street racing in Auburn causes road closures

Richardson lives right on Pacific Avenue where the January incident happened.

He said there have been more incidents since that specific one and hopes a new law will be enough to keep street racing out of his community.

The city council has one more reading on this proposed law. If it passes, it will take effect by early April.

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